Here we were in that beautiful place and with the possibility to set up a business of my liking and I had decided it was going to be shoes. Actually I knew little about shoes, for sure love them and I had designed them for YSL and sometimes had my own designs made up by a shoemaker but that’s as far as it went.
Now, where to start? It was 1982 and there was no internet we could consult but we discovered that Alicante, a Provence at the coast quite a long way from where we were, was the place where the shoe industry was located and there, a few miles from the city of Alicante, was a small town called Elda that concentrated totally on shoe making. Some other little towns and villages made shoes too but Elda was bigger and had the best reputation.
One morning we all got in the land-rover and we were on our way, a beautiful but very long drive through the high mountains and country roads. It was so far that if we left early in the morning we arrived late at night but that first trip we stayed somewhere overnight because we wanted to arrive fresh and early in Elda to investigate the situation. We went to have breakfast in town and made a telephone call ( No cell phones in that time) to the first shoe factory we saw in the Elda telephone book. Salvador explained, of course in Spanish, to the director who came to the phone, what we were looking for and he advised to call someone called ‘Alverado’ and invite him for lunch in the Elda country club, he probably could help us further. That was indeed a funny meeting, the food very good and we learned a lot. Alverado was the most advanced designer and had his own factory where he made his own line which was successful and after we explained again what we wanted to do he asked if we had our ” Hormas”? Horma is the spanish word for “Mould” or “Last” in the shoemakers language, which is a wooden or plastic form on which the shoe is moulded and mounted and which decides the shape of the shoe and the height of the heel and the width and the comfort… so indeed very important. No, no we had no moulds and it turns out that each model needs a mould and the first thing to do was to go and visit the mould makers and choose some form that would go with the designs I had prepared. We started with the one that Alverado had advised us and to our astonishment there were thousands and thousands of moulds to choose from, so many that at first it makes you dizzy but later you get used to it and you know better what you want. In the end we decided to have our own made up and so we went to the best mold crafter in Elda and had him make up 2 basic forms, 1 for high heels and 1 for flats which he made to my foot so I could fit the models.

      One of our forms

Extensive days looking for leathers and other things to do with shoes….

All this took days but in the meantime there was a lot to discover and at every step we were sent to the next and after visiting several factories we found Francisco. He was the son of ” Montesinos” a well known shoe-factory owner in Elda, but Francisco himself was working around in different places and someone had made him attentive to us and he spoke English!!! It was sometimes hard at that time to express myself exactly in Spanish so the fact that he spoke English and knew every corner of Elda made us take him in as our manager.

… with Francisco Montesinos trying out our first models…

Although Elda had everything a shoemaker needs, it was very basic and there was very little fantasy. Could not find the soft Gold leather I was looking for and it had to be soft and comfy… here I got a lot of protest of the shoemakers in the factories because they were not used to doing anything different and wanted to stick to the traditional way… Also I was a woman and believe it or not in that time still something not heard of much in that little Spanish town. So because everything was so basic I had to invent little things that would make them special, so we painted the leather made holes and made them all as soft as possible but of the best quality materials.

The softest of boots….

 The Gladiator

 Red Rocky, so well fitting, making a beautiful leg….

Venus, a best seller …

The painted leather….

We did a lot of work and after spending some time in Elda it was always great to come home and enjoy the pool and all the wonderful things there…

Back in “El Cuarton” we were now known to have resurrected the little castle and had done such a great job with the house that we were asked to take care of an other house that was empty and was next to ours… This house was much bigger then the Nido so we decided to make that place our  working space….

We go there next time but for the moment you can see what Salvador is doing in Alegria’s blog, Click HERE☜



YES, we are packing and moving to Spain, it was not all of a sudden and it was not definite but we had gone there a few months and it had been great and all seemed to be prepared for us. The place we were going to, called “El Cuarton”, was a private urbanization with about 12 big houses on big pieces of land on a mountain side, with at the bottom of that mountain a small village with an office and some apartments for rent, a pool, restaurant and even a discotheque for the summer vacationers… El Cuarton was located between Algeciras, quite a big city with an important port, and Tarifa, a beautiful ancient quiet little town at the most southern point of Spain, a beautiful place with white empty beaches. It is 1981 and that is how it was but in the meantime Tarifa has become a famous place for surfers and the town is no longer quiet and the beaches no longer empty, lots of wind there which is great for the surfers but can sometimes drive you nuts! Salvador had gone first with Juan, driving all the way from Paris and had made friends with the director of “El Cuarton”, Michael, who invited the rest of the family to come and stay the summer there in one of the apartments in exchange for portraits Salvador did of his wife and son.
Read the whole story here in one of his books ¨Viaje al Cuarton¨,( half in Spanish, half in English) or CLICK HERE for the printed book.

In the time we stayed there we met some very nice people, the cook of the restaurant, a real chef, Jose Garcia Lomas, offered us to eat for free anytime in exchange for portraits Salvador did of his daughters, Robert who lived down the hill in a marvelous house and made great barbecues and was a real fan of Salvadors paintings and of course the director who did anything to get us to stay, and he organized an exhibition for Salvador of all the big pastels he had made while we were there. Alejandro had to go back to school , it was the end of the summer and we went back to Paris but Salvador stayed there to arrange things. He became good friends with Robert who asked him some time later if he would come with him to Paris to pick up a new car coming from England and then drive back with him. They came to Paris and on the way back to El Cuarton Salvador talked a lot about me and made Robert interested to know more and invest in an idea I might have for a business with my designs. In Paris he had seen my work and liked it and  he agreed. Salvador called me that night to tell me and now it seemed that all was falling into place.


When Salvador came down with the land-rover, that came with the house, we packed her full and the 4 of us were on our way, the car was so heavy it would sway from left to right, but we got there safe after a three day drive.

Our little castle was quite high in the mountain, lovely house on a few acres of land, with a gate and winding driveway. It was called “El nido del Aquila” ( the Eagles nest), don’t know who gave it that name but we were delighted to live there for a while. The owner, Samina, lived in NY and almost never came down, so it was lucky we were there that summer and that she wanted Salvador to do her portrait because thats how they started talking.  She did not like the place as her husband had given it to her for her birthday but she was a bit suspicious about her husband buying that from an english woman without even ever having a look at it, besides she knew nobody in Spain.  She was very happy to leave it in our care and we were happy to take care.

There was a lot to do, for one the pool was now a play-ground for frogs and other creatures and looked dark green. Salvadors brother Pedro came over to help and between all of us we first cleaned off the old paint and then painted it a perfect blue.








The house needed a lot of care because the humidity was of a very high level, days on end we could be in the clouds but surprisingly when you got down the mountain the sun was shining, it was also a favorite place for the rain to play, the clouds would gather there as the wind came from all the directions.

Bella Alegria

                                                                                                         Pict: Cooky Debidour

my sweethearts happy in the Spanish country side

Once the house was put in order, decorated and repaired we started thinking seriously what to do. I did not have to think long, it seemed logic to me: SHOES! A dress, coat, pants or anything I could make but shoes… it was very hard to find nice shoes at that time and the man who produced the shoes for YSL, told me I had an excellent eye and talent for shoes and their proportions and he gave me a beautiful last, a form of the foot in wood on which the shoe is made, like saying ‘ go ahead, here is a start’, and most of all Spain is one of the countries in Europe that actually have a shoe industry… so all this put together….